Stillwater News Press

Oklahoma News

May 3, 2012

Sierra Club sues EPA over Oklahoma power plants

TULSA, Okla. — The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., District Court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, seeking to ensure that the federal agency enforces a state plan that monitors and reduces pollution from Oklahoma coal-fired power plants.

The Sierra Club warned the EPA in February that the lawsuit was coming in 60 days if the agency failed to act, the environmental group said in a statement.

No action was taken, so the Sierra Club followed through, said Whitney Pearson, associate field organizer for group’s Oklahoma chapter.

“Sierra Club brought this citizen suit because EPA must act to either approve or disapprove the state’s plan to address these excess harmful emissions,” Pearson said. “What we ultimately expect out of this action is to end the free pass that large polluters currently have which allows them to emit unlimited amounts of pollution during certain phases of their operations. Because people need to breathe all the time, limits of the amount of pollution that polluters can emit need to apply all the time. This case is one step in getting to that point.”

The EPA will review the details of the Sierra Club lawsuit, said Dave Bary, EPA Region 6 spokesman.

“EPA will discuss with the Sierra Club and the state of Oklahoma the next appropriate steps in this legal matter,” Bary said.

The plants involved include the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co.’s Muskogee plant, Pearson said. OG&E has another coal-fired power plant, Sooner Station, in Red Rock.

Brian Alford, OG&E spokesman, said the company will have to wait for an outcome.

“So, once we know what this process will be, rest assured we will follow that process, once we know what that is,” Alford said.

All coal plants in Oklahoma emit excess emissions, Pearson said.

“And we are reminding the EPA to help close this loophole so that Oklahomans can breathe cleaner air,” Pearson said.

The coal-fired plants are allowed to pollute above legal levels, said Jenna Garland, associate press secretary with the Sierra Club Southeast and South Central Region.

“Currently, under what is known as a pollution excuse provision, coal plants can turn off pollution controls when starting up, shutting down, or performing maintenance on a malfunctioning plant,” she said.

The loophole allows Oklahoma plants to pump more mercury and smog into the air than in other places around the country, Garland said.

“Although the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to approve or disapprove Oklahoma’s proposed plan to manage these emissions, EPA failed to act by the deadline,” she said.

Coal-fired plants release excess emissions during periods of starting, shutting down and maintenance because operators generally turn off any existing pollution controls during these times, which cause significant emissions spikes to occur, Garland said.

“For example, starting up a coal boiler that has not been running can take hours to bring it up to temperature, and during this time no pollution controls are running on the boiler, so 100 percent of the pollution is going into our air,” she said.

Additionally, engineers at regulatory agencies do not include these excess emissions in a plant’s air permit, Garland said. As a result, they exceed the amount allowed by permit.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Oklahoma News
Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Must Read